DESIGN : LDF 2014 - Spend a day at the V&A

At the annual London Design Festival, the installations at the Victoria and Albert Museum always hit the mark. As the countdown to September's festival begins, here’s our preview of the V&A’s star turns.

The first thing to know about the 2014 London Design Festival is that you don’t want to miss the V&A. LDF's most theatrical – and most fun – hub, it plays host to all manner of contemporary design set against a backdrop of the museum’s outstanding historic collections. It’s a marriage made in style heaven (sigh).

At this year's event, fantastical sculpture is trending. Those hooked on architect Zaha Hadid will discover a swooping, curvaceous bridge spanning the pool in the courtyard garden. Design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have transformed the ceiling of the Raphael Gallery with two giant suspended mirrors (above). Equally striking is the 'Carousel Wall' by David David, a 50-square-metre tunnel of kaleidoscopic mosaic. Alongside a roster of talks and workshops, other exhibits include 'The Wish List', a collaborative project launched byTerence Conran and Benchmark in which design legends such as Paul Smith and Amanda Levete mentor up-and-coming talent to create an item of their mentor’s choice.

 Paul Smith with Nathalie de Leval

Paul Smith with Nathalie de Leval

An object lesson in combining the historic with the inspiring and new, the V&A offers you the chance to enter a realm of extraordinary talent during LDF that establishes London as the design capital of the world. Free for all, the event runs from 13 to 21 September.   


The queen of sleek-cut and futuristic designs, architect Zaha Hadid has brought her signature style to the V&A’s John Madejski Garden, redesigning the central pool with a sinuous water feature in streamlined aluminium. ‘We envisaged a piece that would emerge from the centre of the pool,' said Hadid. 'The metallic surface will reflect the sky on one side and the rippling water on the underside.’ After its LDF debut, 'Crest' will be installed within the ME Hotel in Dubai. Opening in 2016, this is Hadid’s first hotel project in which she has designed the entire building, both inside and out.

William Morris step aside. For this year’s LDF, London-based print and design studio David David and British manufacturer Johnson Tiles are set to redecorate the walls of the V&A's Tunnel entrance with a vibrant geometric mosaic based on an original artwork (above) by David David co-founder David Saunders. Known for dandy, Pop Art-inspired designs on fashion accessories and homewares (think umbrellas, iPhone cases and silk pocket squares), David David will greet visitors with a riot of colour and pattern as they walk past the ceramic mural.

We wish we were Cypriot-born designer Michael Anastassiades, purely so we could live in his London home and be surrounded by his designs. Simple, elegant and contemporary, his minimalist lighting is the cat’s meow. Teaming up with Italian design house Flos for LDF 2014, Anastassiades has created 'Ama', a pearl-like chandelier made with mouth-blown opaline spheres and brass. It's a tribute to the last of the Ama women – the pearl-diving mermaids of Japan – who for centuries have been free-diving in search of precious oysters on the ocean bed.

A Renaissance experience of the modern kind, this dazzling installation by Barber Osgerby and BMW features two giant, floating mirrors suspended from the Raphael Gallery ceiling. A stunning counterpoint to the room's antique interior, the optical effect gives a whole new perspective on the magnificent Raphael Cartoons.